Experienced parent group leaders know that teachers can be some of their best friends at school and that schools work best when parents, teachers, and administrators work together. When teachers are on your side, they can improve your programs, make fundraising more successful, help build support among parents and administrators, and more.

Try these tips for building good relationships with your teachers from the start—and continuing that goodwill throughout the year.

Start with some appreciation. Taking time at the beginning of the school year to show teachers you care and value their work can go a long way toward setting a good note for the entire year. “Back-to-School Teacher Appreciation Ideas” highlights some sweet, low-cost shows of thanks; alternatively, consider a teacher appreciation breakfast—it’s easy to organize and can be done simply or elaborately.

Be as welcoming as you are to parents. When a teacher attends a meeting, go out of your way to say hello. Let her know how much you appreciate her efforts to be involved with the parent group.

Be inclusive. Teachers appreciate being looped in on matters ranging from scheduling events to deciding how to allocate funds. Try to include them when making such decisions.

Ask them what they need. Your parent group may be able to lighten teachers’ loads by making photocopies or helping with special projects. As well, offering academic support, like making flash cards for students to use at home, can help support teachers in their efforts to focus on teaching rather than on gathering and creating resources.

Don’t overstep. Avoid asking teachers to do a lot of paperwork or organizational tasks that take away from their teaching time. And don’t be pushy about spending time in the classroom. Some teachers may welcome efforts like in-class tutoring, for example, but others might not. Ask, and respect their boundaries.

Create a teacher grant program. Tight school budgets mean that teachers often have to cut corners or go without activities that would enhance learning. In addition, surveys consistently show that the typical teacher spends $500 or more of her own income each year to purchase classroom supplies. A PTO teacher grant program can fill those gaps and encourage teachers to find creative ways to reach students.

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